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Studying at the University of Tartu, Estonia: Student Perspective

Ajla Đuliman from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Master’s student in Information Technolgy Law at the University of Tartu was interviewed about her study experience at the Unversity of Tartu and the student life in Estonia.

What are you studying at the University of Tartu?

I am currently studying Information Technolgy Law program for my Master’s degree, at the School of Law of the University of Tartu.

Why did you choose this program?

Information Technology Law is here to regulate person’s relations via technology. It has become the new pillar of our society and in every aspect of our lives. It is imperative that it is regulated properly, especially in developing countries, which use electronic services every day but lack the governance of such services on a national level. I have chosen this program to acquire knowledge on how to properly advise and instruct others to enjoy the full benefits of our modern world.

How do you know you found the right university for you?

I knew that this was the right university for me when I saw the curriculum, as it is held all the courses that were of interest to me. I have been accepted to six different universities in the EU on a similar program, but this was the only one that offered me the proper balance of legal and technical subjects, as well as the legal practice in my field of study. Classes such as Programming and Information Infrastructure added up to my skill set that would be beneficial while looking for employment.

What else did you consider about the university, beyond the classroom?

One of the many things I like to tell to my friends and family back home is that I am free to choose as many extra-curricular activities and that it is not necessary for them to be a part of my specialization. In fact, it is encouraged to enrich yourself. From the History of Jazz to Demonology of Folk Religion, Sports, Arts, culinary crafts… It’s a buffet table.

Did the university’s location, Estonia, also influence your choice?

I have chosen this University due to its location in Europe’s most technologically advanced country, the University’s own reputation, and pedigree, as well as its continuous advancements on a global educational scale, but with a reasonable tuition fee. Tartu as a city is small, but it holds everything an average city does. Museums, shopping malls, parks (so many parks). Estonia is not the country that I remember ever being anything more that I was aware of, but it surprised me with how much it has to offer. I like to travel all over it and nothing is far with the bus.

What is the difference between the lifestyle and the study in your home country and Estonia?

In my home country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the study style is limited to the book and final assessment. In UT, I spend more time doing research within the group and performing independent studying from materials sent to us by our professors. As of matter of my lifestyle, nothing is very much different from my home, except for food, which I really like, and the fact that I speak English more often than at home.

Describe your experience of the application process to UT.

After the usual online application available on the website, I waited for an invitation for the Skype interview. This wasn’t the first online interview I had, but this was the first one that skipped the questions such as ‘’tell us something about yourself’’ or ‘’why this university’’, and jumped straight to the questions to test my way of thinking with the following: ‘’Will AI replace judicial function?’’, ’’Who would be responsible in the accident of the self-driving car’?’ and ‘’How will cryptocurrencies influence the global economy?’’. It was clear right there that this University is serious about its students.

How do you finance your studies abroad?

I have a tuition waiver scholarship, but there are many scholarships that the University offers for every semester, aside from the part-time jobs and other governmental ways of funding.

What is your opinion about the lectures and lecturers at UT?

Oh, my lectures are challenging and sometimes nerve-wracking, but so rewarding afterward. Good thing is that most of the work is done in groups, so not only I found out how much I can handle, but also I found some amazing friends. Nothing brings people together as shared trouble over homework. The lecturers are all practitioners of their craft, and they always shared many of their work experiences as practical examples of the matter they were lecturing us about.

Are you keeping in touch with other students from the same nationality as you in Tartu?

I am afraid I am the only one from my nationality at the UT at the moment. I am hoping to inspire others from my country to also explore this opportunity.

What do you do in your free time?

Tartu is a student city. Every event here is organized by students for students. Erasmus is one of the biggest organizers of these events, such as Karaoke nights, Halloween parties, International Cuisine Nights, Pub Crawls, Latino parties… I recommend going to Forrest Bar, you can enjoy some quality time with your friends and play table tennis! Once per semester, there is a Student week, a whole week of events for all the students to enjoy. Other than those, I love walking around the luscious nature of Tartu’s forests or shopping and eating in Asian restaurants.

Do you live in a dorm or an apartment?

I live in the student dorm that was offered to me by being accepted to the program. The rent is incredibly cheap for the apartment twice its value. The dorms work like this: apartments for 6 people, each with own kitchen and bathroom. I have 5 roommates; however, the apartment is big enough for more! The dorm stuff is always helpful and kind. Most of the dorms are 5 minutes from the city center and have their own laundry rooms.

Is there a possibility to study and work in the same time?

Yes, with the condition that your workload does not interfere with the study workload. Most of my classmates are full-time employed, in fact.

Do you need a visa to live in Estonia?

Yes, I need a visa to live in Estonia. I used my visa-free right to enter the country considering that the closest Embassy of Estonia issuing D-type visa that I needed (due to the fact that I am only here for one year) was in France. I had no financial means to travel and stay there to apply for a visa. Once I arrived in Estonia, I applied for my visa at the Police and Border Guard. I was issued it 2 weeks afterward. The thing is, depending on the duration of your time here, you need either Temporary Resident Permit (which takes about 2-3 months to be issued) or D/C type Visa (10 to 14 days to issue). University of Tartu student advisers offered me a lot of help regarding the information for the visa process.

What would you say to fellow students who wish to apply to UT?

I would say them to try out for at least a semester. The classes are engaging, the city is every student’s dream and the weather is not even that cold (and believe me, I am coming from the southern Balkans, I know what I am talking about). You can have the adventure in the country that is greatly underestimated and maybe even be pioneers for your own home university!

Learn more about study opportunities at the University of Tartu, Estonia here.